Friday, August 28, 2009

Living standards

An article in Today written by this lady who calls herself "Budget Tai Tai" (BTT) piqued my interest.
She's currently working in Hong Kong, and earning 20% more in terms of her last drawn salary while she was in Singapore.

20%!??! Wow, not a bad increment for doing essentially the same job and at the same time getting a chance to move abroad to experience a different sort of life eh? That's what a lot of her friends and acquintances thought too. Apparently, she's been getting these "green-eyed" feedback and responses from people who poured out their envy and told her how lucky she was.

But no - according to her, the cost of living in HK - for an Asian, at least - can be much higher than that in Singapore. She qualified this by comparing the cost of assessible food (ie. not comparing high-class restaurants and fine dining, that sort of things), the public transport, and lastly rental costs.

First, food.
Actually, no surprises there. Although the prices of hawker fare has been consistently going up over the years (a bowl of noodles probably cost $1.50 ten over years ago. Now they cost $2.50 - $3.00. That's like 60-100% jump in 10+ years), Singapore can still boast of being one of the most affordable developed countries when it comes to dining outside. I mean, if you don't compare with some of the other nearby Asian countries (where there are arguably much cheaper food stuff, but tyically sold at pretty run-down places, not to mention the hygiene factor!), Singapore is really an excellent place for having a decent meal outside of your home. Like what BTT said, if you compare having a decent chinese meal at our foodcourts compared to HK's 茶餐厅, certainly the latter option costs more.

Next, public transport.
Again, this seems to favor Singapore. A single trip on our MRT (or bus, for that matter) cost no more than $2++ (not sure exactly how much, but I seriously don't think it's more than $3), whereas in HK apparently a similar trip can cost $4-$5 (converted to SGD).
I'm lazy to actually check out their cab fares, but I have a feeling it is probably comparable to ours.

Lastly, housing cost.
According to BTT, rental costs are much higher in HK compared to Singapore, but I suspect she is not comparing apple-to-apple. I mean, if you take a 3-room HDB flat located at the outskirts (esp. far away from town and not near an MRT station), of course the rents can be quite low, compared to a small apartment located in HK/Kowloon, if it is conveniently located.

Does that mean people in Singapore really have it that great? Well, if that were really the case, our leader wouldn't have to worry so much about the current brain drain now, would they?

In fairness, I can say this.... Here in Singapore, when it comes to food and (public) transportation, we do seem to have a greater range of choices - from the very affordable to the expensive - as compared with many developed countries.

Look, if you could be happy with having 3 simple $2 meals per day (even in Raffles Place area, you can find food at that price!), drink tap water (which is clean enough to drink in Singapore, by the way), and say take 2 trips of the bus/MRT at $1.50 per trip, to "survive" a day would only cost you a total of $6 + $3 = $9 per day!
On a monthly basis (theoretically), one could live with less than $300.
* Oh, you can even enjoy "free" air-conditioning comfort in the public libraries and the hordes of shopping centres located all over the island.

However, that is assuming you already have a roof over your head. And a place in Singapore is NOT cheap.

Furthermore, how many of us can truly be contented with such a lifestyle?


Post a Comment

<< Home